Nusa Lembongan moves to conserve corals

Written by on June 22, 2012 in Bali Environment with 0 Comments

Nusa Lembongan moves to conserve corals

http://www.thejakartapost.com/bali-daily/2012-06-22/nusa-lembongan-moves-conserve-corals.html

Local people in Nusa Lembongan are improving their efforts in coral conservation to protect coastal and coralsmarine areas amid the thriving tourist industry on the island.

A joint team from fishermen’s groups from Lembongan village, the Coral Triangle Center (CTC), local government representatives and students from Bali International School planted corals in the island’s waters last week.

There were not many corals in the north part of the island, which is where the team placed five big concrete blocks, on which 120 coral fragments had been planted, at a depth of around six to seven meters underwater. Coral planting is where small pieces, or frags, of living coral are glued with a special environmentally safe epoxy to a suitable surface, then placed in a location where they can grow and thrive.

“Corals in the area are still recovering from the damage caused by boats that used to throw their anchors without marine buoys,” said Marthen Welly, CTC’s learning site manager for the marine protected area in Nusa Penida, which includes Nusa Lembongan island.

In addition to conservation, he said, this coral planting was a small step toward reviving the area in the hope that it could become a new snorkeling destination. Within 10 months, the coral frags could grow by 5 centimeters.

“Within two years, this place could be better than before, offering more beautiful views of corals for tourists that like to come here for snorkeling.”

It was the second planting session, the first one having taken place in 2009 when 125 Acropora sp coral frags were planted. This time round, Pocilopora sp frags were planted.

Another long-term program that is part of this event is “Adopt a Coral”, in which everyone can participate in the coral planting for a fee of Rp 100,000 (US$10.6) per person. The money is used for coral maintenance and for local fishermen’s income.

There have been 19 people from Bali International School that have participated in the coral adoption.

“We work together with travel agents and dive operators to include the coral adoption in their holiday packages. We hope this could be a sustainable program,” Marthen said.

Made Suriada, chairman of the Celagi Buana Putra fishermen’s group in Lembongan village, said fishermen on the island had long been aware of the importance of coral, not only in terms of the economy, but also ecologically.

“Lembongan tourism is growing very fast. And there will be no tourism here if we don’t have corals,” said Suriada, who also leads local people’s groups to regularly monitor the situation and to prevent destructive fishing by fishermen from outside the island.

“Coral planting is also a way to teach the younger generations about conservation.”

According to the fishermen’s group, 85 percent of corals in Nusa Lembongan are in a good condition, but they keep planting corals to build awareness among tourists, as well as to protect the corals.

He said that corals in Nusa Lembongan grew faster than those planted in other places, such as Serangan and Buleleng, maybe because the water is less polluted.

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